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Dev Biol. 2002 Aug 1;248(1):82-92.

A consensus RNA signal that directs germ layer determinants to the vegetal cortex of Xenopus oocytes.

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Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Miami School of Medicine, 1011 NW 15th Street, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


RNA localization is an important mechanism for generating cellular diversity and polarity in the early embryo. In Xenopus, the correct localization of the RNA encoding the T-box transcription factor VegT is essential for the correct spatial organization and identity of endoderm and mesoderm. Although localization signals in the 3' UTR have been identified for many localized RNAs, insight into what constitutes an RNA localization signal remains elusive. To investigate possible common features between signals that direct different RNAs to the same subcellular region, we carried out a detailed analysis of the uncharacterized VegT RNA localization signal and compared it with the well-studied Vg1 localization signal. Both RNAs localize to the vegetal cortex during the same period of oogenesis. Our results suggest a common RNA localization signal at the level of clustered redundant protein-binding motifs and trans-acting factors. We propose that what characterizes RNA localization signals in general is not the nucleotide sequence or secondary structure per se, but the critical clustering of specific redundant protein-binding motifs.

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